FCC: Key parts of broadband plan in flux after court decision
The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it is committed to overseeing Internet services, but that a loss in a federal court earlier this week hinders its ability to carry out some key policies related to its national broadband plan.
But the FCC didn’t say what it would do to correct that.
“The Commission must have a sound legal basis for implementing each of these recommendations,” wrote FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick in a blog post. “We are assessing the implications of yesterday’s decision for each one, to ensure that the Commission has adequate authority to execute the mission laid out in the [broadband] plan.”
Schlick tried to minimize the effect a U.S. appeals court decision would have on most of the dozens of broadband proposals the agency presented to Congress on March 16. It can still make airwaves available for mobile broadband networks. It can foster innovations to TV set-top boxes that would promote competition and bring broadband services to television. On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Comcast, which argued against sanctions placed on it by the FCC in 2008 for violating open Internet principles. That decision cast into limbo the agency’s ability to regulate broadband services.
“The Comcast/BitTorrent opinion has no effect at all on most of the broadband plan,” Schlick said in his post. “Many of the recommendations for the FCC itself involve matters over which the Commission has an express statutory delegation of authority.”
But he also said key aspects of the plan to bring affordable broadband connections will be hindered. Those include goals of bringing broadband to low-income and rural areas and getting those communities to adopt the technology. Experts say the FCC may not be able to convert a $8 billion phone subsidy to be used also for new broadband networks after the court’s decision. Cybersecurity efforts to protect broadband users, consumer protections on speeds and prices, and privacy are also removed from the agency’s jurisdiction after the court case.
April 7, 2010; 5:57 PM ET
Categories: Broadband , FCC
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